Our highly-successful Rainbow Badge initiative becomes a national NHS England project

Posted on Tuesday 15th June 2021
Members of staff wearing rainbow badges

Created by Evelina London, the now nation-wide NHS Rainbow Badge initiative is continuing to grow with NHS England leading the project into a second phase.

We are proud that our Rainbow Badge initiative has made a real impact on our staff, as well as the children, young people and families we care for at Evelina London. It was set up to make a positive difference by showing that we are an open, non-judgemental and inclusive place for people that identify as LGBT+. Many young LGBT+ people say that they do not have an adult they can turn to or confide in. We believe that people who work in healthcare can play a key role in making things better.

This Pride month, some of our staff have told us how our Rainbow Badges have impacted them and the children, young people and families we care for:

Hannah Brindle, staff nurse said: “Sometimes when working in PICU a baby will have two Mums and I’ve noticed that some parents haven’t always felt comfortable being open with all staff members. Once I saw a Mum looking at my badge and after that she knew it was ok to just be herself. She knew she was accepted, could be open and not judged.”

Lynzi Crisp, Highly Specialist Speech and Language Therapist said: “I love my badge and wear it with pride. I’ve had a conversation about my badge when travelling on the bus to do a home visit.  An older man asked why there were rainbows for the NHS everywhere.  I commented that the rainbow was to show support for LGBT+ patients and staff.  We then had a long discussion how things have changed in society since he was a young man. It was an enriching discussion for both of us.”

Jamie Saunders, physician associate at Guy’s Hospital said: “When I started my first job as a Physician Associate at the age of 27 I was still scared to talk about my sexuality to anyone. Then these little NHS Rainbow Badges began to appear on more and more of my colleague's lanyards and uniforms. Before I knew it they were quickly expanding across my entire life, from work colleagues to long-term friends from other NHS Trust wearing them with pride. I thought to myself, well if they're wearing the badge, they must be ok with LGBT+ people and this finally allowed me to take the plunge and ‘come out’. All because of a badge; a symbol of trust, a sign of safety. I now wear my badge to help others in medicine, and beyond, to be themselves, be open and to be honest about who they are.”

LGBT+ stands for lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and the + simply means that we are inclusive of all identities, regardless of how people define themselves.

The Rainbow Badge initiative has been spearheaded by Dr Mike Farqhuar, Consultant in children’s sleep medicine, through his dedication and passion he says: We know the lived experience of LGBT+ people can still be fraught with difficulties. And when you look at children and young people in particular, it can still be pretty tough.”

“We wanted to create something that was about saying, ‘I am a good person for you to talk to about who you are, and what you might need. I’m not going to be judgmental, I’m going to listen and take it on board. And if you’ve got a problem, we’ll work out how we can help you solve it.

“Really quickly we saw this was something that people wanted to be part of. I’m really proud of how people have embraced it, with around a quarter of a million healthcare staff committing to the initiative and receiving a Rainbow Badge in the first year and a half.

“It’s grown into something we at Evelina London could never have imagined at the start and the stories I hear of the impact it’s made still get me every time.”

NHS England will be taking this vital initiative to the next level with a new scheme to benchmark and award NHS organisations for their work on LGBT+ inclusion. Find out more about our Rainbow Badges on our website.